Terese White, a 41-year-old flight attendant from Dallas, was arrested on October 4th at San Diego International Airport for attempting to smuggle over three pounds of fentanyl. According to federal court documents, TSA officers became suspicious of White when she was seen shaking during a security screening. After a closer examination, they discovered a large mass wrapped around her abdomen. A drug-detection dog was brought in and identified the presence of drugs within the package.

Upon questioning, White initially claimed that the package was a “mercury pack” given to her by coworkers for weight loss. However, after testing, it was revealed to be more than three pounds of fentanyl. White was taken into custody and now faces up to 20 years in prison. She will be sentenced on March 24th in federal court.

In her plea agreement, White admitted that she had tried to use her flight attendant privileges to bypass the more robust security screening process in order to smuggle the drugs. She flew from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to San Diego, briefly left the airport’s secure area, and returned later in the day for a scheduled flight to Boston. White attempted to use the “known crew member queue” to bypass regular security, but was randomly selected by TSA agents to go through the regular screening process, leading to her arrest.

White’s plea agreement also stated that she admitted to using her position of trust as a flight attendant to facilitate the offence. It is unclear whom White intended to give the drugs to or where she was planning to transport them. The drug is 100 times more powerful than morphine, and one kilogram can potentially kill 500,000 people, according to the DEA.

Fentanyl has been linked to the deaths of more than 70,000 Americans in 2021 and the DEA has seized more than 379 million doses of the drug this year. The DEA agent, Shelly Howe, stated that “Drug traffickers use air, land and sea for personal gain, putting people’s lives in danger.”

White’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Mesa Airlines, her employer. White’s actions are a stark reminder of the dangers of drug trafficking and the potential consequences of attempting to bypass security measures.